We’ve all told our children (or been told when we were children) that they need to spend less time watching TV and more time playing outside. Today, it’s not just TV that keeps kids indoors – children use cell phones, computers, and tablets, and play video games, in addition to watching just as much TV as we did when we were kids. Do you know the impact that too much “screen time” can actually have on your child? Children are getting 5-7 hours of screen time every day, and the negative health effects are alarming.Since screen time is a sedentary activity, children are using very little energy while sitting in front of a TV or computer. Combined with ads that lead to unhealthy food choices, this increases your child’s risk of obesity. When they see ads for food, children often consume more calories when they’re watching TV – they may not even be hungry, but they are influenced by commercials advertising foods high in salt, sugar, and fat.Too much screen time can also lead to behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, or attention problems. It can negatively affect your child’s sleep habits, as the artificial light given off by electronics can make it hard for your child to fall asleep at night. Stop using all electronic devices at least one hour before bed to help your eyes readjust – this is recommended for adults as well as children.Children over age two should have no more than two hours of total screen time each day, and children under age two should have none. To help your child cut down on screen time, do not keep the TV on for background noise, especially during meals. Decide ahead of time which programs to watch, and start suggesting other activities such as games, puzzles, or reading. Try to be a good role model for your child and follow the same guidelines – find things that you enjoy doing together, like going for a walk or cooking a healthy meal together. You’ll soon realize that you prefer quality time with your children over sitting in silence and staring at a screen!